Monthly Archives: September 2012

Nothing To See Here Folks…Move Along…

Oh, what a sight it was. Shepard Smith couldn’t muster enough lather to apologize for showing the suicide of a human being on live television. His heartfelt remonstrance’s were the stuff of classic Fox news; dramatic, intense, utterly lacking any newsworthy value whatsoever.

My distaste for Fox “News” is well-documented. I don’t feel the need to pile on them for this one. This is to be expected from a “news” organization of their ilk. What I’m completely done with are the local news channels that feel the need to televise pursuits in the first place. Mr. Local News Producer…if any of you see this blog, I implore you to detail what part of your formal journalistic studies lists vehicle pursuits as “newsworthy”? They are routine and bordering on the mundane here in Southern California…pursuits have lost their “newness” many chases ago.  What then, remains of value to the viewer? Oh, excuse me, I simply neglected to remember that some time ago, local news ceased to be that…news.

Televising live pursuits has simply become a danger; not only to the psyche of the viewer, but to the public and law enforcement agencies conducting the pursuit. There is the criminal who will flee from the police simply BECAUSE of the likelihood of making the boob tube. And there is the criminal that will take advantage of the coverage to cover his escape…witness a local pursuit recently, where at the termination, riot police had to be called as he bailed in his neighborhood and the locals, having witnessed the pursuit on television, were only too accommodating by swarming the car at the end of the chase.

Folks, we need to take a hard look at ourselves and where our own personal responsibility comes in. This falls in the same category as buying tabloid magazines and slowing down to witness the gore of a car accident.

I implore you…I appeal to the last vestiges of your humanity…just move along…avert your eyes and keep channel surfing. Maybe the local guys will get a clue and actually realize this crap stopped being news a long time ago.


The “Golden” Age of Sportsmanship

Last Monday night, Golden Tate of the Seattle Seahawks, committed one of the most obvious acts of offensive pass interference (click on photo above) by utilizing a two-handed shove to a Green Bay receiver that took that receiver out of the play and knocked him to the ground. Tate then gets one hand on the ball and is erroneously awarded the catch, giving Seattle the win. A win the NFL later admits was fraudulent. But enough about the refs…

Here’s the deal. After the game, Tate is interviewed  and is specifically asked “Did you push-off” and his response is “I don’t know what you’re talking about”.

Okay, granted the interview is right after the game, in the heat of the moment. And granted, the majority of athletes are unlikely to own up to their transgression…but consider this:

Miroslave Klose, the Lazio (European football ) striker puts in a goal with his hands this week. Using your hands is illegal but the referees apparently missed the hand touch. After the goal is awarded, Klose advised the ref that he illegally scored the goal…Klose is congratulated by the opposing team for his sportsmanship and his act is widely reported.

This is how it’s supposed to be done folks. Period. Klose did the right thing. Tate did not. Judge for yourself the character of each of these men and consider which player should be emulated by our youth.

And how about the Green Bay coach getting his players back on the field to defend the perfunctory point-after. I don’t know that I could have ordered my players back out after having a win so clearly stolen…but it was a class act.  Compare that to the truly odd celebration that Seahawks coach Pete Carroll engaged in after the game. He’s been around long enough to know he stole one. Nice job Pete, way to further sully the product and show our kids it’s okay to cheat…

This is a sore subject for me as I have had to endure two generations of horrid displays of sportsmanship by the PARENTS of the athletes my kids have played with.  I have 1.5 years left of high school football to endure the embarrassing actions of my fellow parents in the grandstands and the disgusting “buying” of playing time by corporate parents who want to further advance the “careers” of their sons…

Respect Mr. Klose…respect. Thank you for doing the right thing. It is so rare these days.


Done and Done…NFL Style

The Inaccurate Reception

The answer to this NFL referee debacle is really quite simple. Stop watching. Stop going to games. Cancel your NFL package on cable/satellite. Do this now until the owners and their puppet, Roger Goodell show you a modicum of respect, because as of yet, we have seen only contempt.

Think about it for a second. The NFL produces a product. We, as consumers, purchase it, in the form of tickets, viewing packages, merchandise, sponsor support and the like. Well, Roger, you have been putting out an inferior product. In fact, contractually, you have not provided the product you promised.  In fact, you have provided us with a sham. That you were willing to go ahead and play with officials clearly inferior, speaks volumes of your willingness to take our money, but provide nothing in return.

I’m done. No NFL on TV. I will go out of my way to avoid supporting NFL sponsors. If you feel as cheated as I do, I encourage you to do the same.  Will it make a difference? Probably not, but it’s the right thing to do. I simply can’t continue to spend time or money on something that is a fraud.

I let Roger Goodell know how I feel. I explained this position. I’m pretty sure my correspondence will never be seen. However if enough of us reach out to him, the sheer volume will get his attention.  That’s only if he’s not too busy fining players for “conduct detrimental” as a result of their justified outrage…HA…time to look in the mirror pal!

The Green Bay Packers won the football game Monday night.  (And by the way Seattle, way to celebrate a victory clearly gained fraudulently, Pete Carroll, you should be very proud). Unfortunately, the Seahawks were given the victory by a bunch of immoral scabs. They are not at fault however…it’s the ownership group that decided it was okay to produce an inferior product. Shame on you…I’m done…


My Gun is Your ’65 Mustang….

Blued Colt Python

There is something about a firearm that evokes the frontier spirit in my soul; the Colt revolver or the Winchester rifle that conquered the West.  My inner “man” identifies with the notion of teaching my son how to safely and properly use a gun. It’s a rite of passage in our country and one that I hope never ends.

In my view, firearms…guns…are works of art. The photo accompanying this blog is an example of form meeting function in a way that appeals to the eye. Granted, if your life has been horribly affected by guns, the beauty of the object is not seen.  And therein lays the dichotomy. At what point do we personalize the gun?  Is it an inanimate object or is it a living organism, capable of wreaking havoc in our society?

As clichés go, I find this one pertinent to the discussion: “guns don’t kill people, people kill people”. This should be self-evident, but clearly it is not. Politicians routinely invoke the human qualities of evil in firearms to suit their political needs.  The term “Assault” weapon is a prime example. In California, a weapon is classified as an “Assault” weapon simply by the addition of a handle in some cases. Yes, the handle protruding from the bottom of the stock has somehow turned this tool, this instrument, into an adjective…into an “Assault” weapon. The spin is ridiculous yet we have accepted it as fact without argument.

I am sensitive to the destruction carried out by these tools by individuals either innately evil or mentally ill.  But let’s be clear. The weapon did not commit the crime, the individual did. I am not aware of any case in history, where an inanimate object committed a crime…or a homicide.  Responsible gun ownership and handling eliminates the danger. We do not allow 3 year-old’s to drive cars. We should not allow irresponsible people to own guns…or criminals.  How that is ultimately accomplished does not diminish the fact that a gun is a tool. It does not have feelings or prejudices.  It is not alive.

I submit that until we stop the labeling nonsense we will never get a handle on reasonable gun laws or effective punishments for criminals.

Yes, I know that a mass murderer is much more likely to kill effectively with a gun then with a knife…but I respond by asking you what tool was used to kill so many in the biggest mass murder in our history, 9/11?  And what damage does an automobile do when its crazed driver plows through a crowd; or the fundamentalist suicide bomber strapped to the teeth with explosives?

I am a firm supporter and believer in the second amendment. I am also a registered Democrat and a former (see a previous post) member of the N.R.A.  I believe that as a law-abiding, responsible citizen, I have an inherent right to protect my family. As such, until my government can guarantee that firearms will not fall into the possession of criminals and my local sheriff’s department will guarantee a ten second response time to my 911 call, that I have a responsibility…to responsibly protect myself and my family. It’s really just that simple.

I love guns…I am not going to apologize for that.  I will ask those of you who think that’s a crazy statement to consider my argument.  Is it any different than saying “I love ’65 Mustangs”? Both are inanimate objects capable of mass murder.

All I’m asking for is some common sense in a debate sorely lacking any…

 

 


Reality Television…Civilization Interrupted

I abhor reality T.V.  Let me qualify that…I abhor MOST reality T.V.  I guess I have to acknowledge a small guilty pleasure called Top Chef.  Also, I used to like Cops before my opinion of the legal justice system changed.

And I should probably qualify with the fact that a friend of mine starred on a Showtime reality show…did a fine job in fact and actually managed to keep his show out of the business of exploitation.  I also know people in my community who have been contestants on reality shows, as well as an ex-neighbor that works on them. OK, let’s just admit that if these things continue, we will all know someone in this industry…the industry of the lowest common denominator.

As Bill Clinton said, it’s all in the arithmetic.  The cost of producing the average, or even the above average reality show is significantly less than the traditional sitcom or network drama. Significantly.  And a successful one will widen the profit margin for the investors ten-fold. There is no question that it’s a great business model.

Here’s what’s not so great in some of the most egregious shows: exploiting the desire for fame, the fifteen minute syndrome if you will, of uneducated or unfortunate human beings willing to be exploited for a few laughs…or a few moments of drama.  Yep, let’s eat some more disgusting bugs, let’s throw another glass of champagne on another equally exploited silicone sister, let’s allow our personal lives to become tabloid fodder while our real lives fall apart.

Network executives have an unending stream of people willing to be exploited, to be shamed, to be humiliated. It’s really hard for me to watch…sad people seeking fame and fortune by creating for the viewer the ultimate voyeuristic fantasy…

“Rollerball” and “Hunger Games” are closer than we think. The Mayan Calendar has nothing on the destruction we can bring upon ourselves. If we continue to devalue and destroy the human soul of our fellows, we ultimately devalue and destroy our own. And then it  just becomes a matter of time until “Russian Roulette” hosted by Ryan Seacrest tops the Nielsens.

Think I’m crazy? Keep watching to find out…


N.H.Hell….

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman (Courtesy 92CitiFm)

I played Ice Hockey in high school (1970’s) and became an avid Los Angeles Kings fan.  Many a day was spent wondering if my dad’s friend would call and say he had an extra ticket.  Fast forward to last spring and my Kings are on their improbable run through the Stanley Cup Playoffs…culminating in their first championship in franchise history. Suffice it to say my tear ducts were pretty dry after they lifted the Cup.

Fast forward again to 6 days ago when N.H.L. Commissioner Gary Bettman announced the players are locked out and the season is in jeopardy.  The good news is my Kings get to enjoy the Cup a little longer…the bad news…the bad news is yet another professional league in a contract negotiation player lockout.

I’m not an N.B.A. fan and had they not returned last year, I would have been okay.  On the other hand, I was sweating bullets earlier this year during the N.F.L. lockout.

So here we go again. The players are already looking to Europe to fill the gap with short-term contracts and we hockey fans are left to our own devices. Screw the fan, we’ll come back…right?  Keep it up owners.  Let’s keep playing this game with the consumer and see how long it is before we tell you to collectively go fuck yourselves.  It can’t continue…at some point, the fan will become so righteously disgusted with this surreal game of chance, played with Monopoly money, that we will say adios.  We’ll find another outlet, another venue for our entertainment dollar.

And what get’s me the most is that professional hockey players are widely known as some of the most humble, genuine, hard-working athletes in professional sports.  So yeah Bettman, let’s screw these guys over and disappoint more fans, and further sully your product. Bettman, the stooge of the owners, is a wily veteran of these dances and will no doubt squeeze the players association for all he can. He’s no dummy, but that’s the short term assessment.  In the long-term, he may do enough damage to a uniquely loyal fan base that all his efforts will be for naught. As much as I despise the man and what he stands for, I hope it doesn’t come to that. Hockey is a beautiful game played by humble warriors whose passion for it will always eclipse their passion for a paycheck…it’s sad that Bettman feels the need to exploit that.

Drop the damn puck already before it’s dropped in an empty arena.


Can’t We All Just Get Along? Bike-Style…

(Courtesy Washington Post)

I rediscovered bicycling in 2008. I had spent many years on a motorcycle, but hadn’t given the pedal powered 2-wheeler a shot until I bought my first road bike.

It didn’t take long for me to delight in a wonderful discovery. Riding a bike helps me reimagine my childhood.  Every time I start out on a ride, and oftentimes during the ride, I experience the rush of adrenaline and joy that I felt as a child riding my bike.  It brings back memories of my 3-speed Schwinn with the banana seat and the sissy bar…my first green Continental 10-speed.

I also discovered something else…cycling saves me money. Gas prices continue to climb and I adjusted some of the moderately short trips I routinely made and found a significant savings. And I felt good about it too. I’m no tree-hugger, but there is something about not contributing to the destruction of the planet that adds tokens to your personal Karma account.

I even found a job for a while in the cycling industry and reveled in the camaraderie and passion shared by my fellow cyclist. I am thrilled to see on my morning fitness rides, more and more men and women commuting to work. I live near one of the largest biotechnology companies in the world and on any given day, I see a couple dozen cyclists, backpacks filled with work clothes slung over their backs, heading into work.

Now for the downside; cycling is inherently dangerous, especially on city streets. A driver myself, I understand the frustration of motorists who see cyclists disobey traffic laws (run stop signs, ride on sidewalks, take entire lanes when it’s not necessary), in fact, a few years ago I hit a drunk cyclist who was traveling the wrong way at night.  Fortunately for both of us his injuries were minor…so yeah, I get it. But consider the vast majority of cyclist that DO follow the rules of the road. Here are a group of people, contributing positively to the overall well-being of our planet and they are subjected to often near-fatal encounters with metal machines bigger and faster than we are. It’s not that hard to co-exist. Here are a few tips to make the commute more enjoyable and safe.

It boils down to the same old adage: walk a few miles in the other fellows shoes and you will gain a greater understanding of him and yourself…or in this case, ride a few miles in his clip-on’s…


How Many Have to Die Before We Call It What It Is?

How many of you think drug addiction is a disease? Or do you consider it a moral failing?  The product of a weak-willed person, someone with a poor constitution. What about alcoholism?  Disease? Or another moral failing?

Our community lost a promising 23 y/o young man this month.  I didn’t know him personally but he was part of my tribe, my community. I read his obituary and looked at what was probably his senior picture. Poster boy for good looks and clean-cut living. This death on the heels of another high-profile death in our community…the quarterback of a local football team, son of a former NFL player…dead as the result of a heroin overdose.

I’m tired of it. I’m tired of the ignorance of the rest of us. These are not bad people. These are not weak-willed human beings. These are sick people suffering from a disease. Alcoholism and drug addiction have long since been recognized by both the American Medical Association and the Supreme Court as a disease. By definition: a chronic, progressive and FATAL disease. Yet we as a society continue to treat the sufferers as lepers…criminals…outcasts.

Do we imprison our cancer sufferers? Do we shun the person with diabetes as someone who “just can’t handle his sugar”? No. But when it comes to drugs and alcohol, our social indifference kicks in and we stigmatize, we lock-out, we imprison.  The United States has the largest prison population in the world and the overwhelming majority of these prisoners are addicts and alcoholics. Should we forgive their crimes because they are sick? Of course not, but we need to reevaluate what is a crime.  Possession and under the influence penalties are ridiculous. Locking someone up for feeding their addiction is like busting the diabetic for possession of a Snickers bar. The criminal justice system is not the answer.  Compassionate, accountable recovery is.

Until our society as a whole has the moral courage to recognize this for what it is…a disease, we will continue to mistreat it. And we will continue to kill our young.  We are not exempt. You are not exempt. Jail does nothing to treat the underlying disease; it only manifests the problem and continues the lie.

So as you judge the alcoholic or addict next time, try to remember that they are suffering from a chronic, progressive and fatal DISEASE…if enough of us do this, perhaps it will save some lives, reform our prison system and finally begin to address the root problem.  If not, we will continue to bury our young. This is not getting better folks…only worse.

RIP Aaron. I’m sorry we couldn’t help. Shame on all of us.


Romonarchy…

I actually feel bad for the man. Much like the replacement NFL referees, here is a man utterly and completely out of his league. It wasn’t that the videotaped comments were so much incorrect, as he staunchly stood by his statements; it’s that he is out of touch with both his constituents and the electorate as a whole.

Mitt Romney wants to be your king. Not your president…your king. Monarchy. That’s what he aspires too and that’s what he is suited for. Wealthy, entitled, privileged…all the earmarks of Monarchy.

The problem is Monarchy doesn’t flow too well with the Republican doctrine (think small government) and for those independents and third partiers whose votes may still be up for grabs.  I’m pretty sure the statement that “my job is not to worry about those people. I’ll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives…” will not resonate with those folks. It’s demeaning and divisive. It’s a peek into the psyche of a man out of touch with the majority of the people in this country who live paycheck-to-paycheck.

That Romney so far has conducted a disastrous campaign on just about every level leads one to the logical assumption that if he can’t avoid a train wreck leading up to his presidency, that the actual presidency won’t fare much better.

And it’s a telling insight into the man himself. Yes, there are cold, dispassionate realities to every campaign and yes, there must be a calculated pandering to these realities. I just don’t see Bill Clinton or Barack Obama making this kind of off-the-cuff statement. I don’t believe it’s who those men are as human beings and leaders.  And that is the kind of leader I want: imperfect for sure, but empathetic, ethical (within the political framework) and kind, compassionate human beings that actually feel pain.

Indeed, we do have a choice this election. I can’t imagine a clearer distinction.


It Takes One to Know One…

via Associated Press

A long-time acquaintance of mine, who happens to be of Persian descent, posted this status on his Facebook yesterday:

The TV at the gym was showing the protests in the middle-east, and a lady on a treadmill says: “They should just drop a bomb right in the middle of all those people” Made me think how much people are alike all over the world 😦

Amen brother…amen.

If I’m completely honest with my innermost self, I can briefly empathize with this lady’s statement…and shame on me for even considering it.  But it’s an honest reaction to something that is so outrageous and hard to comprehend.  But like many things in life that are hard to grasp, we tend to oversimplify and categorize our feelings…like this lady did…like I could if I choose to be lazy…and insensitive.

After all, let’s look at what’s really happening in the Islamic world right now.  Extremists are preying on the fears of the poor, disadvantaged and uneducated among them and providing them with a purpose…a jihad…a call to arms to fight their oppressor’s in the name of the Holy Quran and the almighty Prophet Muhammad.

Except that’s not what happened.  The Holy Quran and the Prophet Muhammad have not called for the destruction of the western world as much as all of us…the jihadist and the housewife, would like to believe.

It’s a byproduct of spin that creates these misunderstandings. No one is willing to challenge the popular assertions, the fear-mongering that makes things easier to define…makes us willing to put people into categories that are comfortable to us, but often mistaken and horribly wrong.

The Islamic religion, indeed Arabs of all faiths, don’t have a market on extremism.  One need merely look at our own breed:  at the sociopathic Pastor Terry Jones of the Dove World Outreach Center; at Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, an Egyptian born Coptic Christian,  maker of the incendiary film currently stirring misguided passions and fears overseas; at Pat Robertson and his “down-home” brand of racism and religious intolerance; and finally at the Limbaugh’s, and the Beck’s, and the Hannity’s…all commercial entities that pander to our own uneducated…our lowest common denominator…our lazy.

Extremism knows no religious belief, no skin color and no national boundaries. Extremism cuts its victims down with an impunity that would make Solomon proud.  We are all extremists in the dark corners of our minds.  It’s only through critical thinking and a modicum of education and humanity that we are able to overcome these fearful portions of our hind-brains.

Enough.


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